Third prize winner of the 6th Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Contest.
I have sent my Louie at least twenty letters since the stroke. Yesterday my mother said postage was going up and where was I sending those letters anyway, it didn’t look like I was getting any back. At eighty, my mother still has a knack for words.
“Only when it’s dark can you see the stars,” she might say. “Make a bouquet from the flowers at hand.”
“Suck it up, buttercup.”
Okay, that last one’s mine, but it’s what she’s thinking. My left eye hasn’t closed since the stroke. I have to put drops in it. It stares like a person in shock being led through a room, gawking but not grasping a thing. I imagine carrying my eye in the crook of my arm, huge, like a football, and me saying to others, “Excuse me. Whoops. Out of our way. Sorry folks, eye coming through.”
Louie tried to make love to me after the stroke. I guess there were things we should have dealt with first. You know, I always thought Louie kept his eyes shut during sex. Maybe it was only by some blink between thrusts that his lids whipped apart. Or maybe I’d quit moving, my eye transfixed on the way gravity was making pouches of Louie’s skin, his face slack and puckered at the same time. Realizing he’d always looked like that, I’d just never seen it, made our life seem somehow a sham. When his own eyes opened and stayed that way, he must have seen something that enlightened him too. I know we let something important go by, but at the time there wasn’t words. He went soft inside me, like a balloon losing air. What was it my mother said yesterday?
“Nobody has measured what a heart can hold.” Or was it “the heart holds what nobody has measured.” Maybe it was “measured, the heart holds nobody.”